Summary: We witness the horror of a Mechon attack, send Fiora off to recover the Mobile Artillery and spend ages toppling Mechon only for Dunban to tear them to pieces.
TWs: Implied Gore/Body Horror.
Just quickly before I start on this part, I was thinking about how in part 9 Fiora and some of the Defense Force were surprised that there were still Mechon, but I didn't elaborate on that point. I think it's relatively obvious as a person playing a game that the Mechon are still around so I'll deal with it in-universe.
Colony 9 seems relatively peaceful, at least on the surface. But there are many aspects that lead me to believe the Hom population in general was still at war, possibly with themselves but mainly with the Mechon. There's the Defense Force of Colony 9 alone, but also Dunban's attitude. Clearly he's still recovering from the events of a year ago and longing to return to his former strength, but beneath that desire I felt I also sensed that Dunban felt he explicitly would be needed to fight (the Mechon) again. Maybe I misinterpreted that bit, I don't know.
But it's more than that. Shulk's primary focus is clearly to understand the technological marvels of the world, but again I felt it went deeper than that. That his research was not just interesting but necessary to prevent future (Mechon) attacks.
On another note, do the people(s) living on the Bionis not have any method of crossing to the Mechonis to conduct espionage? Anything gained from it probably wouldn't end up in the common consciousness, but I'd be surprised if nothing was being done, especially if the justification was that the people(s) of the Bionis simply believed all the Mechon were defeated (I want to say slain, because I still can't discount the Mechon as being alive in some way) at the battle a year ago.
It's an unbelievable amount of nonchalance on behalf of the leaders of the societies that survived the war/battle. I don't recall the word war so much as battle, which again makes me (the player) assume there is more to come, and that the people(s) know that.
Location: Tephra Cave
Eeep, the Cellar Bugworm has respawned upon loading! He's not a one time encounter? I manage to sneak around him without starting combat as I don't feel the desire to fight him again. While I'm menu checking I see that 'Rocco's Heartfelt Request' isn't down as time sensitive even with the attack on Colony 9. This is why I don't know that this part of the system is a good idea. I could fully believe Colony 9 could be pretty much obliterated at this point and we'd have to relocate to Colony 6 or something but this suggests for the most part Colony 9 will come through all right.
I also go through my inventory for the first time in a while. I tend to just mash through treasure chests drops because there are so many. I probably got it from the Bugworm, but I have another improvement in weaponry for Reyn, that comes with a Gem that occasionally grants extra Blaze damage. Shulk is still with his starting Junk Sword, I've got to assume he'll be getting the Monado soon? I'd be both annoyed and amused if it turns out he doesn't get the weapon until much later in the game. I also fill out half of the Collectopaedia for the Tephra Caves, not currently having multiples of many of the collectibles.
Location: Colony 9 (incl. Anti-Air Battery 1)
I take out the Verdant Bluchal on the way back to the Colony and happen to finish another quest too. Who exactly is paying me the rewards right now?
- Challenge 2 - Complete! (1800G)
- Material Quest 3 - Complete! (800G)
Hang on, are the Mechon eating people?
Shulk: They're eating people!
Oh God no, just no. Eeew, no. I was honestly not serious (in wanting that to be the case) there. If you're going to make me think about it though game... are the Mechon able to extract energy/materials from the Hom body through this method? Do the Homs just think they're getting eaten and it's actually (somehow) much worse?
It's better than not being able to damage the Mechon at all I guess, but there's already been so many contradictions on what can and can't harm a Mechon, simply Toppling them seems like a cop-out. The green barrier preventing me from running away is also back, and is something I kept meaning to mention but always forgot in the write-up. Is it only there on mandatory/Mechon battles? I don't recall it being there when I faced off against the Mag Mell Ruins defence drones.
This first battle takes ages as even though Shulk inflicts Break a lot, Reyn doesn't seem to want to inflict Topple. In the meantime our attacks deal one hit point of damage. I switch my leader to Reyn to remedy this for later battles. Fiora had gone into Dunban's house to check on him but he's missing. I'm excited, guessing he's off to get the Monado and kick some ass!
The game tells me I can/should use the Flee option from the Battle Palette if I need to but I decide to take on some of the smaller Mechon (M31's) anyway. Turns out I'm no better at Toppling Mechon than the AI is, as I miss-time Wild Down quite a few times. The recharge time on it takes ages too, and with no-one else able to inflict Topple battles last minutes with nothing really happening. Why nothing? While I can't damage the Mechon they can't really deal damage to me either. Assuming I'm not too powerful at this point in the game, given how the Mechon have been built up that's a little disappointing. I fight several more around the Ether Light and get some interesting drops but it looks like they respawn so I just run past the rest on my way to the lab.
While his soldiers flee, Vangarre stands his ground and comes face to face with the cool-looking-transforming-fighter-plane-clawed-Mechon...-thing.
This goes about as well for Vangarre as you might expect. Very little I see on-screen indicates a specific fate for him, yet Reyn is worked up as though he died. I can easily see that it could have happened, but it wasn't even like Mumhkar's death earlier where we don't see the act but do see the build-up. Here we just cut away after Vangarre is fine and then Reyn is angry. The end result of these scenes is that the lab entrance has been blocked by debris.
I am then genuinely surprised that the solution to this dilemma is to go power-up the Mobile Artillery with the Ether Cylinders. I think I should have seen that coming. We make haste towards the Residential District but on the large platform between all three districts we're surrounded by Mechon. Shulk asks Fiora to go and take care of the Mobile Artillery while he and Reyn hold the Mechon off. Game, why do you keep wanting to take Fiora away from me?
I guess I'm not really complaining as it doesn't make it too difficult, but only three of the smallest Mechon fight me, while all the large ones wait outside the barrier while I take my sweet time. And it is sweet, as my Topple-timing breaks down again and without Fiora there's less Breaking being done overall. I take them out and while Shulk and Reyn prepare to face the rest of the Mechon with grim determination, a welcome ally busts through!
That sparking can't be good.
I get to fight with Dunban, who makes quick work of the Mechon before I can even think of Toppling them. He sticks around in my party, and while I can't change his equipment or see/alter his arts, he does have skill trees; 1) Wisdom (Agility Bonus), 2) Bravery (Counter Rate Bonus) and 3) Prudence (Block Rate Bonus). The Wisdom tree has some interesting skills based on Dunban not wearing armour, but I leave him as he is, at least until the next part.
Next Time: We rendezvous with Fiora and destroy some Mechon with Dunban and the Monado. Will Shulk finally get his hands on it?